“As Asians, the way we experience racism is, by and large, really about harassment and stereotyping and maybe a sense of disempowerment. As an immigrant kid I was on the receiving end of a lot of slurs growing up. For us it’s never that when we walk out on a daily basis we fear for our lives. I look at Tevin and the other folks I know and that’s what I think about – the fear. Brittany and I worry about Tevin all the time, but it’s not just about Tevin. I worry about all the black and brown students I have. At the very least these are the folks that I am responsible to take care of.
Right now there are a lot of Asian American groups coming out to say, we stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters. Why am I so fired up? It could be because of the combination of my own personal experience and my concern for people I love. It’s also ultimately my understanding of the gospel. It’s one thing to say that racism is done by folks of no faith or those whose values are contrary to mine, but then to watch folks who quote the scripture and don’t see the problem; oh my goodness, that becomes really personal.
When I started to get serious about how I align my life with the scripture and recognized that the gospel put the emphasis on the marginalized and oppressed, I started to say, ok, then I need to care about these issues.
So, what’s the antidote to these human problems? Through my life experience, I began to recognize that in order for restoration to occur, we first simply must physically come together. That’s the first step. But diversity in and of itself won’t take it to the next step, because that sense of unity is just on the surface. If we don’t work through the hard stuff personally, corporately, and communally, we won’t get to a shared understanding of what community is really all about. The work I did at the school in Boston to bring diverse groups together gives me hope that restoration is possible. The challenge now is how do you scale this up? For me the vision and imagination of how a human being can flourish has to start with humility. It’s not enough to be in my own bubble.”
– Mike in San Francisco